LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Charred remains found in the aftermath of a deadly gunbattle and fire at a Big Bear cabin were positively identified today as those of a fugitive ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer accused of killing two people in Irvine, a Riverside police officer and a San Bernardino County sheriff's detective.
Officials in San Bernardino County said they used dental records to identify the remains of 33-year-old Christopher Jordan Dorner.
Dorner died at the end of a fierce gunfight Tuesday afternoon that led to a standoff at a Seven Oaks cabin in Big Bear. Sheriff's deputies eventually fired tear gas canisters into the cabin and a fire erupted, burning the structure to the ground. Charred remains were found inside later that night, but it took investigators until today to positively identify them as Dorner.
At 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies received a report of a man matching Dorner's description stealing a car from a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View Drive in Big Bear.
The cabin's owners, 66-year-old Jim and 56-year-old Karen Reynolds, said they arrived around noon Tuesday to clean it for a pending rental and were surprised to find someone matching Dorner's description inside.
Telling the couple he wouldn't harm them and was just trying to clear his name, the man used plastic zip ties to bind their hands and legs and put towels in their mouths and pillowcases over their heads before forcing them into a back bedroom, the couple said.
He told the couple he had been in the cabin since as early as Friday and had watched them from inside as they did yard work outside before he fled to sleep elsewhere, they said.
After Dorner left, the couple managed to free themselves and call authorities.
Their stolen vehicle was spotted along Highway 38 by state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers who began chasing the suspect. During the chase, he crashed, abandoned the vehicle and carjacked a man's silver pickup truck.
The suspect opened fire during the pursuit, striking the officers' vehicle, according to Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy. The officers, who returned fire, were not injured, he said.
Officials say Dorner then engaged law enforcement officers in a wild gunbattle while holed up in the cabin on Seven Oaks Road just off Highway 38.
During the exchange of gunfire, San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay, 35, was killed, and Deputy Alex Collins was wounded. Collins was expected to make a full recovery.
During the standoff, police used a heavily armored vehicle to tear down walls of the cabin, then fired tear gas canisters inside shortly after 4 p.m.
By about 4:20 p.m., the cabin was engulfed in flames. Several reports indicated that a single gunshot was heard emanating from the cabin before it burned down.
As the fire raged, the sound of exploding ammunition could be heard from inside.
The manhunt for Dorner had been focused in the Big Bear area since last Thursday when his pickup truck--apparently disabled by a broken axle--was discovered burning on a forest road. Ironically, the Reynolds' cabin where Dorner was apparently hiding overlooked the Sheriff's Department command post that was established to coordinate the search.